Chichibu Night Festival – One of Japan’s Biggest Floats Matsuri in Saitama
Tokyo & Around Tokyo
In the days when there was no electricity, it was bright lights that illuminated the night sky. People in the ancient times used to see the starry night sky as “Skymark” to guide them and not to lose their bearings when they traveled in deserted areas. They couldn’t imagine how Tokyo winter illumination looks like nowadays. Come to think of it, Three Wise Men from Persia in the Nativity story was inspired by the shining star heading to Bethlehem, a small town in current Israel, to visit newborn Jesus and give him three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This story about the three men called the Magi has been told for ages as a famous account of the celebrations of Christmas and an essential part of Christian tradition.
And the star which led them to Jesus home in Bethlehem, where they worshipped him, is believed to have been a miraculous existence as the Star of Bethlehem. That’s why there is a big star at the top of every Christmas tree.
• Winter Illumination at Caretta Shiodome
• Odaiba illumination YAKEI at Odaiba
• Marunouchi Illumination at Marunouchi Naka-dori Street
• Roppongi Hills Illumination
• Meguro River Minna no Illumination
• What Are LEDs?
• Winter Illumination at Ebisu Garden Place
• Blue Cave in Shibuya
• Terrace City Illumination at Shinjuku
• Tokyo Skytree Town Illumination
• Hanayashiki Illumination at Asakusa
In many countries, people are inspired by the beauty of artificial illuminations instead of the star-studded night sky. More colorful LED illuminations brighten up many places and inspire people. And now, they brilliantly grace Tokyo, one of the world’s most exciting cities. I guarantee that they will make your visit to Tokyo in winter more fun and exciting. In this article, let me introduce the 10 best illumination events in Tokyo, which will wow and inspire you.
image courtesy of Kazutan3@YCC
• Dates: November 15th, 2018 – February 14th, 2019
• Time: 17:00 – 23:00
• Place: Caretta Shiodome
Caretta Shiodome is a gorgeous commercial complex in the Headquarters Building of Dentsu, Japan’s largest advertising company in the Shiodome area in Minato Ward. Besides, the commercial facility features many kinds of events each season. But one of the most exciting attractions is the fantastic winter illumination event which boasts about 250,000 LED lights. The music collaboration makes the luminary show even more gorgeous. This year, the event features two of the most popular Disney princess movies, “Frozen” and “Tangled”.
The themes of the two movies take turns every week showing up in the beautiful world of illumination. Also, Caretta Shiodome houses swanky stores and fancy restaurants, which, I guarantee, will offer you unique experiences. The Sky View lounge on the 46th floor, which is available free of charge to enter, overlooks Tokyo Bay and gives you the breathtaking night views of it. If you are interested, please check out the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/caretta-shiodome-christmas-lights
• Dates: November 1st, 2018 – January 31st, 2019
• Time: 17:00 – 24:00
• Place: DECKS Tokyo Beach
Swanky spots for shopping, dining, entertainment, and other cultural experiences make the Odaiba reclaimed-land area unique and special. DECKS Tokyo Beach, which opened in 1996, is one of the first urban-oriented commercial facilities in Odaiba. Every year, DECKS holds an illumination event called “YAKEI”, which comes from a Japanese word “yakei (夜景)” or “night view” in English. YAKEI features 40 illuminated trees of about 20-meter high lining the 200-meter pedestrian mall. All the trees, tall and short, are enveloped in “seven-colored rainbow” of about 220,000 LED lights against the night views of Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree and the Rainbow Bridge, the high-profile landmarks of Tokyo. Besides, DECKS itself is also a unique attraction that is home to 90 stylish stores from classy items to gifts at wallet-friendly prices.
Also, it offers many chances to do fun things: the Tokyo Geopolis indoor amusement park, the LEGO Land Discovery Center, the Tokyo “Trick Art (Optical Illusion)” Museum, and so on. In addition, you can enjoy fireworks events every Saturday. Please take a look at the following articles for more details: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/odaiba-illumination-yakei-feel-celebration-time-year-odaiba
image courtesy of (^^)/
• Dates: November 8th, 2018 – February 17th, 2019
• Time: 17:00 – 23:00
• Place: Marunouchi Naka-dori Street
Marunouchi Naka-dori Street is a street connecting Yurakucho and Otemachi, well known as one of the high-end shopping streets in Japan. The Marunouchi exit at Tokyo Station is the nearest to reach the street, which has become famous for its winter illumination. The illumination in 2018 marks its 17th anniversary. Lining the 1.2 km-long street, about 200 trees feature more than one million LED lights in brilliant champagne-gold color.
This year, the annual Marunouchi Illumination will begin on November 8th, which falls on the same date as an opening of Nijubashi Square, Marunouchi’s new landmark building. So, the whole area around Yurakucho, Otemachi, and Marunouchi will be filled with the jolly Christmas atmosphere especially in late December. If you want to enjoy this illumination in the heart of Tokyo, please check the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/marunouchi-illumination-tokyo
image courtesy of Kakidai
• Dates: November 7th, 2018 – December 25th, 2018
• Time: 17:00 – 23:00
• Place: Roppongi Hills Area
The theme of illumination event at Roppongi Hills is Christmas, so all the illuminations feature “blueish snow reflection and reddish candlelight”. The 400-meter long part of Keyakizaka Street behind the Roppongi Hills high-rise building area becomes one of Tokyo’s most popular illumination spots with the shimmer of 700,000 LED lights decorating the trees along the street. Tokyo Tower provides the perfect background. The Keyakizaka illumination includes the Christmas trees of 66 (Roku-Roku) Plaza and West Walk.
During the period of the illumination event, the whole Roppongi Hills area holds an atmosphere of the German style Christmas celebration. Taking place at O-yane Plaza is one of Tokyo’s biggest and oldest Christmas markets, featuring, for example, a German shop – Kathe Wohlfahrt, famous worldwide for selling lovely Christmas decorations. Besides, authentic German foods and drinks are also waiting for you during the event. If you want to enjoy the Christmas illumination in Roppongi hills, please check the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/roppongi-hills-winter-illumination
• Dates: November 9th, 2018 – January 6th, 2019
• Time: 17:00 – 22:00
• Place: Along the Meguro River
Both banks of the Meguro River feaure a lot of Sakura trees. In spring, they become a popular spot for viewing beautiful cherry blossoms which shimmer and scatter in a gentle breeze. Thus, in winter, looking upriver will give you the same types of quality moments as it would in the season of cherry blossoms in full bloom. Here is the gorgeous winter illumination that will definitely make you think that they are twinkling cherry blossoms! This Meguro “Minna no (Everybody’s)” Illumination is a famous winter illumination event that is famous for its fantastic beauty of about 400,000 pale pink LED lights that decorate the flowerless cherry trees along the river. The riverbanks with the breathtaking view stretch for about 2.2 kilometers between JR Gotanda and Osaki Stations.
The illumination event is environmentally friendly because the electric power used for the lights is generated from recycled cooking oil collected from local residents and restaurants. Check out the following article if you are interested: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/meguro-river-illuminations
In 2014, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded three Japanese scientists a Nobel Prize in Physics for their invention of blue light emitting diodes (LEDs). Without their hard work on the blue LED, we couldn’t get current LED technology that can create highly efficient light sources which last for a very long time. The new technology has made it possible for smartphone displays or LED televisions to exist. And it also has helped the invention of LED lights as are used in many illumination events introduced in this article. Red and green LEDs have been with us since the 1960s.
However, the blue ones were much more difficult to create. What made it hard for the three scientists to invent the blue LEDs was the difficulty in creating high-quality gallium nitride (GaN), an important material that is essential in the production of semiconductors. In short, it took them about 30 years to create the GaN with the quality required of inventing blue LEDs. Such behind-the-scenes efforts lie in the birth of current LEDs.
image courtesy of Norio Nakayama
• Dates: November 3rd, 2018 – February 28th, 2019
• Time: 16:00 – 24:00
• Place: Ebisu Garden Place
I think that Ebisu Garden Place is a gorgeous place that will give you a fairytale-esque atmosphere in the metropolis. Of course, it will allow you to feel as if you were in an authentic European Christmas celebration. The whole venue features over 100,000 LED lights in champagne gold color. The biggest attraction of the event is a breathtaking display of the brilliant Baccarat Chandelier with 250 lights and 8472 pieces of crystal. In addition, there will be a special champagne bar that serves mulled wines from Taittinger Champagne house, a famous French premium champagne producer, in wine glasses made by Baccarat, a world-famous brand of crystal manufacturing in France.
This illumination event is one of the most long-running winter illuminations in Tokyo. So, if you want to enjoy the taste of premium champagnes in a gorgeous Christmas ambiance, check the following article for more information: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/yebisu-garden-place-winter-illumination
• Dates: November 30th – December 31st, 2018
• Time: 17:00 – 22:00
• Place: Shibuya Koen-dori Street/Yoyogi Park Keyaki Namiki
All blue around you. When I saw the illumination show for the first time, gee, that made me feel as if it was out of this world. Known as “Ao no Dokutsu (青の洞窟)” or “blue cave”, the illumination features the shimmering and scattering of bluish white and whitish blue of around 600,000 LED lights. If you are a connoisseur of classical music, then you will find, well, a kind of “symphonic” resonance with the twinkling lights. In fact, I felt the solemn brass sound from Janacek’s Sinfonietta in my mind while walking on an 800-meter path through canopies of hanging branches in a magnificent hue of blue. Originally, this illumination event started in Nakameguro in 2014 and then moved its current location to Shibuya. (The east area of Nakameguro is also a popular Christmas illumination spot.)
Blue Cave became one of the most popular illumination events in Tokyo as it attracted over 2 million people in just one month. So, if you want to have this fantastic experience, please refer to the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/shibuya-blue-grotto
image courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson
• Dates: November 14th, 2018 – February 14th, 2019
• Time: 17:00 – 24:00
• Place: Shinjuku Terrace City
Bob Harris, an aging American movie actor, arrives in Japan to shoot an ad for a Suntory whiskey and stays at a hotel in Shinjuku. He puts a showbiz gloss on himself while going through his strained marriage life. Bob (by Bill Murray) is a protagonist in a 2003 romantic movie “Lost in Translation”, and the hotel he stays in is Park Hyatt Tokyo, a 10-minutes’ walk from Shinjuku Terrace City.
The place consists of two parts. Takashimaya Times Square on the east side of Shinjuku Station and Shinjuku Southern Terrace on the west side. Of course, it is famous for its gorgeous illumination event every winter and a popular choice for lovers and hopeless romantics (like Bob). Besides, the place is a huge pedestrian area featuring many glowing trees. How about taking romantic strolls around the terrace and enjoying sips of Suntory whiskey at a bar nearby? If you want to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in one of Tokyo’s best shopping and gastronomic districts, check the official website: https://www.southernterrace.jp/.
• Dates: November 8th – December 25th, 2018
• Time: 16:00 – 24:00
• Place: Tokyo Skytree Town
At the base of Tokyo Skytree is the large shopping, dining, and entertainment complex – Tokyo Solamachi. It houses over 300 swanky shops and restaurants, which add a classy ambiance to the magnificence of Japan’s tallest building. Around this gigantic tower lie several plazas and green spaces to gaze it in wonder from, as well as a planetarium and the Sumida Aquarium.
Tokyo Skytree Town consists of these modern commercial facilities. Every winter, Tokyo Skytree Town bursts with the fantastic shimmer of colorful illumination like flower Christmas tree, and a Light Garden. They will impress you with over 520,000 LED lights indeed. The Christmas lights are around the Skytree and the fourth-floor decks of the Solamachi shopping mall which are the main locations for the illumination event. Besides, on the same floor, there will be a small Christmas market with merchandise booths that sell Christmas items and serve mulled wine to sip. Check the official website for more details: http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/.
image courtesy of 緋佳
• Dates: November 3rd, 2018 – March 3rd, 2019 (The event is not available every day, so please check the latest event schedule from their official website)
• Time: 18:30 – 21:00 (after daytime business closing)
• Place: Asakusa Hanayashiki
Asakusa Hanayashiki is a small local amusement park in Asakusa, Tokyo. It opened in 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry of the US Navy, sailed into Tokyo Bay and urged the Tokugawa Shogunate to open its door for foreign countries to begin trading. Hanayashiki has been operating for such a long period that it claims to be the oldest amusement park in Japan. So, every winter, it transforms from the amusement park plenty of retro charms to a romantic place glowing in sakura-pale-pink.
This illumination event, called the Lumiyashiki, features some special displays, one of which is created by the fantastic collaboration of lights, music, and a splashing fountain. Besides, other kinds of luminary attractions also entertain you to your heart’s content. And a short ride from Asakusa Station on the Tobu Line will take you to one of Tokyo’s most high-profile landmarks today, Tokyo Skytree, which is also a very popular Christmas illumination spot among many Tokyoites. Admission is from ¥1,000 to ¥2,000 according to your age. If you are interested in the Lumiyashiki event, please check the official website: https://www.hanayashiki-event.com/lumiyashiki/#body-container
There are many other winter illumination events which worthy your attention. Ginza, Omotesando, Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Dome, and Oh-I Racecourse with as many as 8 million LEDs. But there is an ultimate illumination show everyone can enjoy anywhere and anytime: going out in nature and looking up at the starry sky.
If you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you even more about this amazing metropolis, please check the banner below!
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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